Fenland’s shocking record of obesity in 11-year-olds revealed by BBC investigation

Dr Phil Hammond will look at what Government reforms mean for the NHS.

Dr Phil Hammond will look at what Government reforms mean for the NHS. - Credit: Archant

FENLAND has one of the worst records for childhood obesity in the East, a BBC investigation will reveal tonight.

One in five 11-year-olds (22 per cent) living in the district are obese according to the National Child Measurement Programme, which sees all children weighed at school.

That puts Fenland in the top three worst performing areas in the East, alongside Great Yarmouth (22 per cent) and Luton (23 per cent). The figures show a slight rise from the year before.

BBC’s Inside Out East investigation, which will be broadcast tonight, claims schemes to help overweight children are failing to sign up those who need them most.

One scheme in Bedfordshire has a take-up rate of just one per cent despite being extremely successful. According to one health official, being overweight has become so normal many parents don’t recognise the problem in their children.

Weight problems cost the NHS £4billion each year, with over a third of 10 and 11-year-olds classed as obese or overweight.

To try to tackle what is an enormous and growing problem, Bedfordshire Health Service spends £270,000 a year on obesity prevention programmes.

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As part of this they run special weight awareness courses targeted at families. All families with overweight and obese children are contacted and encouraged to join the BeeZee Bodies course in Bedford.

Stuart King, who runs the course, said: “The important difference about this scheme is that it takes into account relationships, most weight management doesn’t do this.

“They need to give people information which is about their real lives, that is genuinely useful in their homes and families, not some idealised unobtainable perfect life.”

However, schemes like BeeZee Bodies report that of the roughly 10,000 overweight youngsters who live in Bedfordshire and are eligible for courses like this, only 1% have actually signed up.

Craig Lister, Public Health Manager for Bedfordshire, said the level of take up of these obesity schemes in Bedfordshire is not any worse than anywhere else in the country.

“I think there are two main reasons,” he said. “One is that most parents of obese children don’t recognise that their children are obese and the other reason is that there is a lot of stigma attached to saying my child is obese.

“Certain areas of the media have said that if your child is obese, you are a bad parent, or in some cases worse than that, so to say that, yes your child is obese and can you help me is a big thing.”

Tonight’s programme will see TV doctor Phil Hammond take a look at what Government reforms mean as the NHS heads towards a radical overhaul.

Dr Hammond said: “This is the biggest shake-up in the history of the NHS and it’s clear the reforms will affect us all so I’ve been wading through the jargon to try to understand exactly what they’ll mean for patients.”

• BBC Inside Out: NHS Special goes out tonight on BBC One East at 7.30pm and is also available on the BBC iPlayer.

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